As we head towards summer, protecting our furry friends against ticks becomes more important than ever. Tick paralysis is a serious and potentially fatal condition that requires urgent veterinary treatment should it affect your beloved dogs or cats. Maitland pet owners are reminded it is essential to actively protect your pets, using over the counter tick prevention medication, available in vet clinics and pet stores. RSPCA NSW senior veterinarian Trish Sullivan said the Hunter Veterinary Hospital has already seen far too many ticks and it's very preventable. "We've already had quite a few cases come in and I know other vet hospitals have too," she said. "We've seen a range of ticks cases, including cases which resulted in the death of pets." Dr Sullivan highly recommends approved veterinary preventatives and said it is highly unlikely a dog or cat will suffer from a tick if they are using preventives. "We had a case the other day where the owner pulled off a tick but the dog was up to date with its tick treatments so it was fine and we were able to send the dog home," she said. If pet owners do find a tick on their pet, it's important to remove it straight away, Dr Sullivan said. "The longer they're on, the more chance they're going to release more toxin in the system," she said. "But you've got to be really careful when removing them because if you break the body and leave the head in there, there can still be toxins." Dr Sullivan also recommends if pet owners are unsure of how to remove a tick to visit their local vets and get assistance. In other news: Severe signs that your pet may have a tick includes, vomiting, the inability to walk and the inability to breathe. Other common symptoms in dogs may include, gagging, wobbliness in the back legs, excessive drooling, coughing and disinterest in food. Common symptoms for cats may include, agitation, gagging, unusual breathing pattern, salivation and disinterest in food. If anyone of these symptoms are evident, it is recommended to take your pet to the vets as soon as possible. Although ticks are more common in the warmer months, there can still be tick cases throughout the winter months, Dr Sullivan said. "Pet owners should be doing tick preventatives all year long," she said. She also recommends pet owners check their pets for ticks every day. "Run your hands through yours dog or cats fur and feel for any abnormal lumps or bumps," she said. Ticks are generally found in the head, ears and chest areas, but Dr Sullivan said they can be found everywhere so it is important to check your pets in all areas.